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This week Rosie tells us about a mushroom tasting dinner at The Brothers Moon in Hopewell, Bottagra South in South Orange, Chatni in Montclair, and much more news about NJ restaurants.
THE BROTHERS MOON MUSHROOM DINNER
We’ve been fans of chef Will Mooney since he opened The Brother’s Moon in Hopewell 12 years ago, so when we were invited to partake in his mushroom dinner we said, “We’re there and many thanks.” It was quite a tasty evening, and informative as Alan Kaufman from Shibumi Farm in Princeton was in attendance. Kaufman will also be at the restaurant on February 20, when the dinner is recreated. Shibumi Farm cultivates gourmet specialty mushrooms using 100-percent organic inputs and sustainable cultivation methods. His products can be found at farmers' markets and fine restaurants. If you attend the dinner, ask Kaufman why we should never eat raw mushrooms. His answer was quite an eye opener.
Here is the four-course Shibumi Farm mushroom dinner:
Roasted lemon oyster mushrooms, red onion, baby romaine with fried egg, shaved Manchego and truffle vinaigrette
Pioppino crème soup, potato, pioppino and parsley oil
Shredded beef and maitake mushroom tacos, Napa cabbage and pico de gallo, queso
“Shiitake on a shingle”—creamed mushrooms on grilled brioche with peas tops
Seared New Jersey scallop with Lion’s Mane mushroom, Jasmine rice, sautéed snow peas and herb butter sauce
Duxelle mushroom stuffed chicken breast, sautéed maitake mushrooms with roasted garlic parsnip puree, sriracha, pork belly and thyme-roasted potato
Braised short rib with truffle mashed potatoes, grey oyster mushrooms and kale
Shiitake Pots de crème
King mushroom accented coconut rice pudding
6 PM; $49, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations: 609-333-1330
“Shiitake on a shingle”—creamed mushrooms on grilled brioche with pea tops.
If you can’t attend the mushroom dinner, The Brother’s Moon is open for lunch 11 AM to 2:30 PM, Tuesday through Saturday; dinner Tuesday through Sunday and brunch on Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM. Take out is always available.
The Brother’s Moon
7 W Broad St
Alan Kaufman and chef Will Mooney holding mushrooms, some of which were used at the Brother’s Moon mushroom dinner.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
BOTTAGRA SOUTH, SOUTH ORANGE
In June 1998, we dined at Café Arugula in South Orange. The original chef/owner, Carlo Carbonaro, recently reopened the location as Bottagra South. On our visit 15 years ago the waiters recited the extensive list of specials without the prices. Nothing has changed. The specials are still recited without the prices. However, our recent meal was 45 cents cheaper with tax and tip ($83.55) than it was in 1998 ($84). Both meals included two appetizers, two entrees and one dessert. Interesting, huh!
If possible sit in the downstairs room, which is bright and cheerful—the upstairs dining room is dismal and since the kitchen door is located there, we watched waiters running back and forth all evening. Dinner started with warm bread and oil with pieces of roasted garlic. The house salad was impressiv. It was a large order of fresh mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, provolone cubes, chickpeas and a balsamic vinaigrette. Although the tomato sauce was delicious, the involtini di melanzane, (eggplant, ricotta, tomato basil sauce and mozzarella) was a heavy appetizer as the eggplant was weighted down with a thick breadcrumb crust. Garganelli with mushrooms, peas and Bolognese sauce came to the table piping hot. The skirt steak special did not. The cool, medium-rare steak had been sliced and was accompanied by Parmesan fries and broccoli rabe. This could have been an admirable dish, if served hot. Gelato is offered in many flavors and the sundaes can easily be shared. We opted for strawberry, pistachio, and chocolate gelato with cherries, whipped cream and cherry sauce. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner and Sunday from 4 to 9 PM; BYO. The restaurant was packed when we dined there. Be sure to make a reservation.
59 South Orange Ave
The staff tries very hard to please at the newly opened Chatni, an Indian restaurant in Montclair. “Is everything ok?” we were asked almost too many times throughout our dinner, which made us uncomfortable. What do you say when you don’t want to disappoint smiling faces? Therefore, we just said “everything is fine,” although the food was not the best Indian we have had. Except for the samosa, all we could taste was the batter on the deep fried Chatni vegetable sampler containing onions, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and paneer tikka (homemade cheese). There was no sauce served with this dish making it dry and tasteless. However, the samosa with mashed potatoes, green peas and raisins had a delectable spiciness. Onion kulcha, one of our favorite Indian breads was only baked on one side and soggy. Daal Makhani, seasoned, cooked lentils were creamy and delicious while the lamb in rogan josh, was tough though the savory tomato and onion sauce was scrumptious. Everything we ordered was at the perfect spiciness level for us, medium as requested. The restaurant is inexpensive, our meal was $40, with tax and tip. We bypassed dessert. Chatni is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
381 Bloomfield Ave
NEW JERSEY WINTER WINE FESTIVAL
On February 23, the New Jersey Winter Wine Festival will be held at the Hilton Short Hills, 41 John F Kennedy Parkway, Short Hills; a portion of the proceeds going to Family Promise of Bergen County. Along with hors d'oeuvres, antipasto, cheese, breads and pasta, there will be three wine classes offered and live music. 7 to 10 PM; $79; week before show $89. For tickets and information, visit www.newjerseywinefestivals.com or call 866-811-4111.
BONES ARE IN AT THE STRIP HOUSE, LIVINGSTON
A new winter menu is in place at the Strip House in Livingston, featuring bone-in options that are available for the rib eye, New York strip, filet, veal chop, lamb and a porterhouse for two. Match these up with their terrific sides, our favorites are the goose-fat potatoes or the garlic-herbed fries but steamed broccoli, black-truffle creamed spinach and sautéed green beans with garlic are available, if you want veggies. Non-meat eaters can opt for a seafood plateau and fish entrees. Reservations: 973-548-0050.
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